Strain ’til the Harvest

Toil, toil,  n’ turn

To prepare the ground.

Laboring in the hot, hot sun

And trying to water the ground with the sweat of my brow.

Spending noon, evening and night

With one thing on my mind:

Maybe harvest will be good this year?

I work until my hands ache,

I collapse and wait and wait

And hope that maybe the harvest will be good this year.

As I wait, I wait

Summer has past and autumn wakes

Yet all I have are the tilled rows that I

Watered with the sweat of my brow with but a hope

That the soil would be suitable for a harvest.

Maybe, my toil will be good enough this year?

Dry is the ground,

I grow weary of the cycle:

Toil, Till, Turn and Tire,

Then with labor I look to what is only barren.

Why won’t the harvest come?

Not one small sprout breaks up the drought.

I throw the rake down,

I break my hoe in two,

These wearisome years of worrisome work have wielded but wretchedness and wile

Now I lay in the dirt that I revile and its scorn settles on my skin.

I’m weary,

O, so weary.

I lift my eyes up to the expanse above

For my eyes traced only dirt these years my land has laid in waste.

It took but my looking up for rain to begin pouring down on my face,

All the soil was first washed from my wretched skin,

then rain watered the forsaken grounds that were but a ruin.

Already sprouts were growing in a jagged, beautiful manner.

Who is this laborer? echoes in my mind.

My hands are still, my heart is weak,

Whose hands are these?

O, Great Gardener! No longer will I toil in vain

With aim that my own hands will bring me gain.

I need not have neat rows and sweat with the turn of the plow.

Till my heart O, Lord, and bring harvest

Renew my soul!

_________________________________________________

I just began writing this free verse at the end of a college service I went to, God had really touched me and was beginning to break loose some things I had been holding on to. I had the urge to write, so I grabbed my notebook and started scratching out things that were pouring over from my heart. More like from my Father’s heart to my own.

The whole message of this poem is about trying to work the ground of one’s own heart to try and make it satisfactory or adequate enough to be deserving of a “harvest” or in other words to be able to receive what the Lord already freely offers those who claim Jesus the Christ. The laborer is trying to make neat rows, till the ground, water in a sense with their own efforts. This only leads to long waiting and then they grow weary, and their life goes back to chaos due to burn out. They notice their disorderliness and attempt to work again to make the ground suitable for harvest.

My life has much been like this. I will try and keep up my life, make it look neat, and when I move just a fraction of a degree in the wrong direction and I suddenly am thinking, “I did all of this work to try and be right with the Lord and I still screw up? What gives?” and then I collapse and the dust of self condemnation settles on my skin. I sulk in self-pity.

My mother has always told me that I am extremely hard on myself. I am not sure where this self-condemnation originally began. I have been an over achiever, I have always striven for perfection. Maybe that is it right there, that word that I just used: “striven.” Let me look the definition of that word up…

“to exert oneself vigorously; try hard; to make strenuous effort towards any goal.”

I am trying extremely hard to make myself adequate and worthy of the grace and blessings of God. I am straining for the soil of my heart to be suitable for His love to pour down on me. That is a bit of a twisted and religious view.

In a sense, I am trying to get to the Father through the work of my own hands. This seems to be a bit of a apostasy towards what Jesus mentions in John 14:6,

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

(Aside: Folks, this post is extremely casual compared to my other ones because I am receiving revelation  from God and scripture as I am going along! We are learning together this is exciting 🙂 )

This scripture does not just pertain to any particular religion, it pertains to having that heart that seeks to receive salvation through their own efforts and to earn it on one’s own. This is not the way! It is only when you completely surrender to Jesus, realize that you are completely unable to make yourself suitable or “tilled” enough to come the Father and let His grace rain down on your screwed up, infertile and unprepared life. The gospel cannot be relevant in your life without first giving Jesus the rights to come into your heart and do all the work. God cannot be glorified through people who are simply trying so hard – striving – in their own strength to be “perfect.”  Its when God takes us in our brokenness, tills the land, rains down his grace and his mercy and his seeds of love grow and take root in our lives that we get our first blessing: a testimony.

Okay, now I am simply rambling and starting to not make sense. This is what happens when it is really late but the mind and heart are buzzing and the Lord is good and and and yada yada yada… 🙂

Simply put, here is my charge:

Every single person out there, whether you confess to be a Christian or not,

STOP TOILING, STOP TRYING TO MAKE YOURSELF WORTHY OF GOD

let Jesus, the mediator between us and the Father of salvation, take your heart

let him make it new, restore it and do what he wants with it, because,

you know what? He knows what is best for you.

Even if this tilling Jesus does reveals certain icky things about yourself

and it hurts, He only wants to abolish them to make room for more

of his seeds of love, joy, peace….and the list goes on.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature…Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” Romans 8:1-3, 33,34

So… I am completely and utterly incapable of saving myself through whatever deeds or disciplines I engage in. Lord, let me just receive your unending grace and not fight to try and make myself worthy! Your grace DEFINES me.

Okay, I’ll stop rambling now.

Love,

Bethany

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One thought on “Strain ’til the Harvest

  1. Wow Beth! Its weird to think you wrote this, not because I know your not capable of such, but because it sounds completely professional, out of a book that has already been published! Great job! Perfect thing to read first thing in the morning.
    Thanks.

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